Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Patricia Mariko Morikawa Sakamoto Interview
Narrator: Patricia Mariko Morikawa Sakamoto
Interviewer: Rose Masters
Location: Monterey Park, California
Date: May 19, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-spatricia-01

[Correct spelling of certain names, words and terms used in this interview have not been verified.]

<Begin Segment 1>

RM: This is Rose Masters with Manzanar National Historic Site. We are in Monterey Park right now on May 19, 2015, and I'm sitting here with Pat Sakamoto. And we're going to do an oral history in which she talks about not only her own life, but her mother's life. Pat, do I have your permission to record this interview?

PS: Yes.

RM: Great, thank you. I guess, you know, usually I start out with asking for your birthdate, but I want to start with your mom. I want to start talking right away about your mother. Could you tell me when she was born and where?

PS: March 3, 1922, in Montana.

RM: In Montana, and what part of Montana was she in?

PS: Well, see, I always get confused there. I never can remember where she was from. I have it all written down, though, trust me, but I didn't look that up before I left this morning.

RM: Well, how about, do you know how her parents came to be living in Montana?

PS: Her father worked for the Great Northern, and after he had worked for several years -- I think it was more than just several, it was a long time -- he decided he would go back to Japan and find a wife, which would be arranged for him. And he brought my grandmother back with them. I have actually the thing from the ship when she arrived. And I don't think she was, didn't know, had no idea what it was going to be like in Montana. It wasn't even near anything, it was in the middle of nowhere.

RM: Did they have a farm there at that time?

PS: No, he just worked on the railroad. He was like a foreman, and she ended up just a housewife. From what my mother's older sister said, my grandmother had melancholy, a bad case of melancholy. So she had three children, Ben, Sueko or Shizu, and then she had Hide. And when they were pretty small, she went back to Japan for a while to visit and she didn't come back for five years.

RM: Oh, wow.

PS: And then he insisted she return, and that's when... she had one more child named Tadashi, and then my mother came after that, she was the last one. But by then my grandmother wasn't functional, so my mother went to live with a rancher in the area, the Nordquists, and she lived there from the day she was born until she was eight years old.

RM: So I want to ask you about a lot of the things that you just said, but first let me make sure that we get your grandparents' names on the record. What was your grandpa's name?

PS: Hirano and... how come I can't remember? Because I never met him, he died before... but I know my grandmother's name was Mume.

RM: Mume Hirano.

PS: I don't know what her maiden name was.

RM: Do you know what part of Japan she was from?

PS: She was from Aichi.

RM: Was your grandpa from the same region?

PS: No. The reason why he picked that is from what my aunt told me, was there were supposed to be beautiful women from that part of the country. And he decided to go where there were beautiful women, and she was actually from a higher station in life than he was from. It was just that she was a spinster, by then she was like twenty-two or something, she was older.

RM: What did her family do in Japan?

PS: I think she was in an orphanage.

RM: Oh, she was in an orphanage, wow.

PS: Or she worked at the orphanage. That's all my mother ever said. She never really knew exactly what her mother did.

RM: Do you know what your grandpa's family in Japan did?

PS: Don't know.

RM: Or why he decided to come to the U.S.?

PS: He probably, like a lot of the men, if you weren't the firstborn, then you had to find your life for yourself. And there were better opportunities, probably, here in this country, the United States.

RM: Do you know what year it was that he came over?

PS: No. Had you told me earlier, I could have looked it all up.

RM: Sorry.

PS: I have it all written down.

RM: We can add notes to the oral history later.

PS: Okay.

RM: And do you know what year he and your grandmother got married, approximately?

PS: No, I didn't even bother to look at that.

RM: We'll look that up later.

PS: But I know my mother's oldest brother was twelve years older than she.

RM: Okay, so that would make him born in 1910. And that's... what was his name?

PS: His name was actually Bin, B-I-N.

RM: Oh, okay.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 2>

RM: So you said that your mother then lived on this ranch in Montana. Where were her parents?

PS: More or less they lived on the other side of the tracks. And she could see them periodically, he would take her -- she knew that she had another family. And Papa Nordquist used to take her over there to visit. And they were very poor, and my mother lived a very comfortable life with the Nordquists.

RM: Was she the only one of her siblings who lived with them?

PS: Right.

RM: How did that arrangement come to happen?

PS: Well, when her other brother, the brother that's a little bit older, year and a half older than she, Tadashi, when my grandmother had him my mother said that she was already not quite right. And they had, she found another family to take him for like a year, and then he came back to the family. Because my aunts were ten and eight years older than my mother so they could help out in the house.

RM: Did she spend her whole childhood with the Nordquists?

PS: Only until she was eight years old because my mom said her father got transferred, and it was going to be two hundred miles away, and he insisted that the whole family go together. So he made her come with them.

RM: What was that like for her? It sounds like she was having sort of a more comfortable life, and then to...

PS: Well, my mother didn't want to go. She said, "I didn't want to go," and Papa Nordquist said he had to let her go. He said that was her family, and she belonged to them, and if he wanted her, then she had to go with them.


RM: So when your family moved two hundred miles, where did they, do you know the geography of where they ended up?

PS: It wasn't Great Falls, I know that. Would be in that general area, because my mother would mention Great Falls. I can't even think of the town.

RM: Do you know if there were other Japanese American families in that area?

PS: I have pictures. There are some other, there would be a crew and there would be some other Japanese there.

RM: Do you know your family had social interactions with other groups, other families?

PS: You know, my mom really never said anything about that. I think they were pretty isolated. She never talks about other families, and the only other time would be when she was with Papa Nordquist, that's the only thing she remembered, really, of happy times. My mother never talks about when she lived with her own family, other than she didn't like the food. And she, I think she felt like an outsider for a while. And then by the time... she was eight years old then, her father died when she was twelve.

RM: Oh, wow.

PS: Because he was in an accident on the railroad, and he bled to death.

RM: So she only really got to know him for about four years when she was living with them. Did the Nordquists have other children in the house?

PS: They had grown children. Actually, when she went to school locally, one of his daughters was the teacher.

RM: Oh, so she went to school with Papa Nordquist's daughter.

PS: Yeah.

RM: That's just such an interesting situation to me, that that happened.

PS: Because that one daughter used to always tell my mom, "You have to call me Ms. Nordquist, you can't call me," you know, by her first name. She said, "Okay," and then she'd always call her by her first name.

RM: Did the Nordquists' grown children live in that house as well?

PS: They probably did at one time, but I think some of them got married and moved to other ranches. Because when I was thirteen, I went and visited. So they were still in the same area.

RM: Was Papa Nordquist still alive?

PS: He had passed away. He actually passed away shortly after, I think, my mother left, because he came to the house when my mother wasn't there, shortly after she had moved in with her own family, to bring a coat and shoes for her, because he wanted to make sure she was going to be warm for the winter. And then shortly thereafter he died and she never saw him again. But she would always go back and visit Mama Nordquist in her later life.

<End Segment 2> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 3>

RM: How did she... it's like she had two sets of parents. Did she talk about how that felt or how'd she balance that?

PS: I asked her a little bit about that. She said the Nordquists, if she got frightened, she could run into their room and jump in bed with them. With her own family, she just had to learn to get on with it. She said there was nobody to comfort her, she just had to be strong, so nobody pampered her.

RM: So do you know, can you tell me a little bit more about her schooling in the area? You mentioned going to school with a teacher who was Papa Nordquist's daughter, but after...

PS: After she moved away, she never talks about school anymore. She never mentioned school.

RM: Did she say, before she was eight, what kind of, what the classroom was like? Was it other Japanese Americans or was it just...

PS: No, it was all white. And I actually went and visited the school. It was a one-room schoolhouse, and it had a potbelly stove, keep the room warm, hitching post out front. And all classes in one room, and it was like that even when I went.

RM: Did she remember how the other kids, did they just accept her as one of them, or was she treated differently?

PS: No, I don't think she was treated differently, she always felt like she was very comfortable there.

RM: Did she learn any, she was on a ranch, right? Did she learn, she was very young, but did she learn any skills of what was going on on the ranch, like riding horses?

PS: No. But he was a cattle rancher. She never said anything about... all she remembers is that he would take her on the covered, like a wagon, with a horse, take her downtown and buy her candy. I mean, she only remembers the good stuff.

RM: And then there was a big change when she went and lived with her own family. And you said she didn't talk about that as much.

PS: She never talked about... she used to play with Tadashi, she remember running around with him, and she said she was faster than him. And she could outsmart him even if he was eighteen months older. But she did mention one time when her mother got upset, she hit her over the head with a butcher knife, and she ran down the street with blood going down her face. And she just said... then when Papa got home and they told him, he said she must have provoked her. So there was no sympathy.

RM: What was her relationship with her older siblings?

PS: You know, she doesn't really say until she moves to Los Angeles, and then she's twelve already. So she doesn't talk about her life there so much.

RM: Do you know, you mentioned that Papa Nordquist died pretty soon after she went to live with her family. Do you know if she attended his funeral?

PS: No, 'cause she didn't even know. I don't think she found out for a while.

RM: 'Til later?

PS: Yeah.

RM: Do you know if they were a religious family? Did they go to church?

PS: No... I know my mother was a Christian, but she never talked about church or anything. More in her later...

RM: But with her own family or with the Nordquists it wasn't a tradition?

PS: No, I don't think so.

RM: So is there anything about those years from eight two twelve when she was living with your grandparents before he passed away, is there anything that she told you that I haven't asked about that time?

PS: No, only that once her father passed away, her brother was going to college in Washington, and he had to quit college and he had to come back home, 'cause somebody needed to make money or support the family, so then he came to California to find a job. And then when he found a job, then he sent for the rest of the family. And because my mother's father worked for the railroad, they could all ride the train for free. So they all came down here.

<End Segment 3> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 4>

RM: Can you tell me a little bit... do you know what your grandfather's work was like on the road, what he was doing?

PS: You know, all I know is he was a foreman, and I have a picture of him, and he looks like one of the smallest people there, because a lot of them were Swedes or Norwegians, and they were tall. And they have a picture, he's standing with the crew.

RM: So then when he passed away, your family rode the train to Los Angeles.

PS: To Los Angeles.

RM: And after her older brother had come back from Washington to take care of everyone. What convinced him to move to L.A.? Was their family there?

PS: No, he came here because I think he got a job, and there was work, working in the produce market, or either working in the fields, any of the fields. I don't think he did that, I think he probably worked in the produce market.

RM: Do you know what part of L.A. they moved to?

PS: They moved to Boyle Heights. But I think my aunt Shizu got a job as a housegirl in Pasadena.

RM: Did your mom then enter the junior high, I'm guessing, at age twelve?

PS: She did go to junior high.

RM: Okay, in Boyle Heights?

PS: Uh-huh. Who was it... what is the junior high there? Stevenson, I think. I think it's Stevenson.

RM: Did you ever talk about what it was like, I mean, the difference between Montana and Los Angeles Is pretty big. Did she talk about adjusting to the city?

PS: No, but one thing she used to always say to me, "You know, when I came on the train I saw the palm trees." She said, "You know, they don't have palm trees in Montana." And I'd say, "You're right, Mom." But every time we'd go on the freeway and she'd see palm trees, it reminded her of the first time she came here.

RM: And she liked it.

PS: I think she liked it. And she had a lot of freedom because I think Uncle Ben had a job, Shizu had a job. Hide had a job, a part time job, so my mother was left alone. She went to school and then she had a lot of freedom.

RM: What was her mom doing during this time?

PS: I don't think she worked, she couldn't have worked for anyone. I know that her brother Tadashi, 'cause he was a year and a half, Mom said he never liked it here, it was like he didn't like it because of the city, he liked country, the open space.

RM: And Tadashi is only eighteen months older than your mom, right?

PS: Uh-huh.

RM: Was he in school as well?

PS: I would have thought so, yeah. And then when he was seventeen, my mom said he graduated and he didn't want to go to college, and Uncle Ben wanted him to go to college, but he said, "Let me work," for this friend of theirs that was a farmer in the valley, and he went there to work, and then an accident happened and he died.

RM: Tadashi?

PS: Tadashi died. There was an accident on the farm, I think a handcart fell and hit him on the back of the neck and broke his neck.

RM: And he was only seventeen or eighteen? How did your... I mean, it sounds like he and your mom were really close.

PS: My mother was very, very upset, she said, "I should have been the one that died." But I said, "Why, Mom? You're just as important as he is." She said, "No." And I think it all came back to she came to the family later, so she really wasn't a part of that family, that he was an original part of the family.

RM: She felt added on.

PS: Yeah.

RM: What was, so Boyle Heights was the neighborhood that had a lot of Japanese Americans living in it.

PS: It sounds like it, because her best friend was Japanese, they lived on First Street near Soto. My mom, I think, said they lived on Fourth and Fickett, and most of all of her friends that she ever talked about were Japanese. So it must have been like a little enclave of Japanese that lived there. Because there is a Buddhist church over there on First Street.

RM: So how has that changed for her? Because not only the climate, landscape changed, but you know, now she has, you mentioned that her classmates in Montana, when she was living with the Nordquists, were all white, and then she came to...

PS: You know, I don't think my mother ever felt the difference. Because I think she always felt accepted by her foster parents, and I don't think she ever felt the difference. Because she never ever says anything about that. She never even says about any prejudice here really, until after the war.

RM: So then did she go to high school...

PS: She graduated from Roosevelt.

RM: What did she tell you about high school?

PS: My mom always said she wasn't a good student.

RM: Was not? [Laughs]

PS: She said she was not a good student. But she never talked about school. I don't think school was her interest. You know, I think she graduated, and when she was a cheerleaders, I think... I think she was a cheerleader.

RM: Any photos leftover from that?

PS: No, I don't have... she never had any photos of that. I don't know. She rarely ever talked about when she was young. She does, she did mention how she used to play at Evergreen Cemetery and they used to run through it, kind of played through there at night.

<End Segment 4> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 5>

RM: So a lot of times we ask if kids went to Japanese school, but I'm guessing with your mom growing up in Montana, yeah... do you know, did her mom speak mostly Japanese at home?

PS: Uh-huh.

RM: And her dad as well?

PS: He must have been able to speak some English, because he worked for the railroad, he would have had to have spoken English. My grandmother, her English was limited, very limited.

RM: So was your mom pretty well bilingual?

PS: No, my mother spoke very little Japanese.

RM: And so her communication with her mom would have not been a whole lot.

PS: Right. I mean, my mother did learn some words here and there that you probably would use all the time, but she said her mother used to wander off and the police would bring her back.

RM: So you said that her mom had "melancholy."

PS: I know, but I think she was... I don't know. She definitely wasn't all there, 'cause you couldn't keep a... my stepfather, when he used to talk to her, he said, "She can't keep a conversation." And my mother obviously couldn't have a conversation with her. But no, she was definitely not all there, but the police knew where to bring her back. Because I don't think she would get that far, but she'd wander off, and they'd wonder who she was and she would ask, and eventually she'd be back at the house, or their apartment.

RM: Was... who was the oldest brother, Bin, am I pronouncing that correctly?

PS: They called him Ben because, I think, most people, they would not have thought of Bin.

RM: Yeah, yeah. Was he sort of in charge of that household at that point?

PS: He was in charge of the household, but my mother said that she never listened to him.

RM: Oh, yeah. [Laughs] What about her other siblings? Did they sort of follow his lead?

PS: I don't think so, because let's see... if my mother was twelve and he was twelve years older, he's twenty-four, then our other sister had to be twenty-two, and the other one was twenty, they all probably were either dating or had a job. I don't know what Hide did. I know that they all lived in the same apartment, because my mom used to say Uncle Frank used to come over and he is madly in love with Hide. He would just hold her hand, and she said, "Just go home." [Laughs] He would just hold her hand.

RM: Do you know if, when they moved to Los Angeles, if the family joined in with different holiday celebrations that were going on, like New Year's? Actually, I guess I don't know if they had Nisei Week in the 1920s in L.A. Kristen's nodding affirmatively.

KL: I think it was around the late '20s.

RM: Okay. Do you know if they ever joined into those kind of celebrations?

PS: I don't think so. My mom never mentions going to Nisei Week then.

RM: Did she mention any holidays that her family celebrated?

PS: No. I think my grandmother probably was a handful, because she did wander off. And so she was kind of responsible for her some of the times, I don't think a lot. Because I know I've seen pictures of my mother, and I don't see my grandmother with her.

RM: What did your mom do after she graduated from high school?

PS: She dated my father.

RM: Right away, right after high school?

PS: Oh, I think so, because she was seventeen.

RM: Oh. So how did they meet? Do you know that?

PS: He used to come to the dances that they would have. There were dances that would be in the area. My mom loved to sing; she loved music, and she loved Frank Sinatra. She would call her girlfriend to tell her that Frank Sinatra was on the radio.

RM: Did she ever perform?

PS: Oh, no. No, no, no. But she did like to sing a lot, she memorized all the words to songs, and I do remember she used to always say, "We'd go to dances."

RM: And that's where your dad was, one of those. Do you know if this was right after high school or if it was while she was still in high school?

PS: Well, I don't know how long she had dated him. It had to be the year that... well, she would have graduated in June, so by the next year, she was already pregnant. So I would think that he started dating her pretty quickly. I know my mother was madly in love with him, she thought he was so handsome, she used to call him Brown Eyes. So she was pretty much infatuated with him.

RM: What do you know about his parents or his family?

PS: I don't know anything about his parents. I know he was a truck driver, and that was all I knew about him, and he was from the valley.

RM: From San Fernando?

PS: Yeah.

RM: So besides that first dance where they met, what do you know about your parents' courtship?

PS: I have no idea. My mother never said anything. Because actually she just talks about once the war came in 1942, and there was a curfew, and now they weren't able to see each other, then they were going to have to leave.

<End Segment 5> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 6>

RM: So did your mom talk about what she was doing when she found out that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by Japan?

PS: You know, she never said anything to me about that. She never said she was surprised, or she never said how she felt that day. I know how my stepfather felt, but she never said anything.

RM: Did she ever talk about what happened around her community, if anyone she knew had been arrested by the FBI after that, or if there was any disruption?

PS: She never mentioned that. All she does tell me is when they're leaving, and that they have to pack up.

RM: So I guess let's step forward to that, and Executive Order 9066 is signed on February 19th. When did your mom find out what was going to happen to her as a result of that?

PS: You mean to go to Manzanar? I think she just did what her family was going to do, she had to rely on her brothers and sister, her brother and her sisters, what they were going to do. Because that's how she traveled, was with all of them, and her mother.

RM: You mentioned before this interview started that your mom's family was already friends with the Kunitomi family. Could you talk a little bit about how that relationship came to be...

PS: Well, that was Hide and Frank, Frank Kunitomi, the one that used to come over and hold her hand. My mom said he was crazy about her, and she said, "Hide could care less about him." And then her other sister, she used to say, "You should be nicer to him."

RM: Did the Kunitomis live very close by?

PS: I think the Kunitomis had a jewelry store in Japanese town, so they had to live somewhere in that area. I don't remember exactly where they lived.

RM: Do you know how Hide and Frank met?

PS: No, all I know is he was at the house a lot.

RM: And did your mom know Sue?

PS: Yeah.

RM: Before the war?

PS: Sueko? Yeah.

RM: Yeah, I know, we always say Sue Kunitomi at Manzanar, and you always say Sueko.

PS: I always remember her as Sueko, 'cause that's what my mother called her.

RM: Yeah. And so were they friends before the war?

PS: Yeah, she was a year older than my mom. So, yeah, my mom knew her. Because her brother, Frank, was the eldest of that family. But that's all my mom says is that... I think that's why she stayed friends with Sueko all those years, is because she could empathize with her in going to camp and everything. Except Sueko left right away, didn't she, from camp?

RM: Yeah, pretty soon, like a year, a little over a year later.

PS: Yeah, 'cause my mom's sisters did, too. And then she was left alone in the camp.

<End Segment 6> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 7>

RM: So let's talk about when she found out that she had to pack up and go to Manzanar. What was that process like?

PS: You know, she was always vague about that. Because I said, "Well, when you went there, what did you take?" She said, "Oh, they told you just to bring some comfortable clothes, don't bring any of your fancy clothes." Of course, my mother did, because you never know when you may need nice clothes. And then... 'cause that's why in that one picture you see her.

RM: She has that beautiful outfit, yes.

PS: Well, she brought that with her. And she doesn't remember... all she remembers is taking the train, she used to put the shades down, and she said and then getting on a bus with the shades down, and then arriving. And I said, "Was Ben there?" And she says, "I don't know." She said, "I don't remember." I said, "Were you there alone?" She just would never tell me. Because I think a lot of it she did forget because it wasn't good. She used to always say that to me, "There's nothing to remember." She said it wasn't a good time. And I said, "Well, do you remember anything?"

RM: Did she ever talk about how she felt when she first saw Manzanar?

PS: She never said anything, she just said that it was dusty. Dusty, windy, that's all she ever talked about was the dust and the wind.

RM: What block did she get assigned to live in?

PS: Block 20. I think the Kunitomis were there in Block 20.

RM: Yes, they were, yeah.

PS: That's what I'm saying, I think she went with that whole group.

RM: They left at the same time, then.

PS: Yeah.

RM: Do you know if they left from Union Station in Los Angeles?

PS: It would have had to have been Union Station.

RM: Did she describe to you what her barracks room was like when they first got there?

PS: Well, I know that Uncle Ben was there and her mother, and my mother, so I think it was just the three of them.

RM: Did they have other people living in the room with them?

PS: Well, it would have been partitioned off, but their family was just those three people. And then I think Hide and Frank, because Hide had just had a baby, so they must have been in another barrack, but not in the same one. And I think the same thing with Shizu, she had a child, a daughter, and her husband, and my mom never says that they all lived together. And then my mother to get married, so she said she went to live with his family, though she did come back to her own family.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 8>

RM: So I guess we should probably step back to your mom and your dad.

PS: See, I don't know which block they lived in. Do you know?

RM: I don't. On the roster it says your mom lived in Block 20, and it has her as married to your dad at that point, and so it looks like he also was living in Block 20. But you and your sister are on there as well, so I'm not sure. It seems like Block 20, but I'm not sure, it could have been somewhere else. And we can look and try to find more about that.

PS: Because all she told me was that she went to live with him and his family, and then she had an argument with his family. And I think she said not nice things to his father, like he was a stupid old man, and she packed up everything and left. In which case she went back to her old family.

RM: So are you okay with my asking you about when your mom came to camp?

PS: No, okay.

RM: So you had told me earlier that when your mom came to camp, she was pregnant with your older sister.

PS: Uh-huh, Janice.

RM: Janice. And I guess I don't need to ask, "How did that come about?" But what I do want to ask is about what we were talking about earlier, that situation where your mom and your dad lived in separate areas.

PS: Uh-huh, with the curfew.

RM: Yes, of the Los Angeles area with that curfew. Can you just tell us about that?

PS: Well, they couldn't see each other 'cause of the curfew, and my mother, I think, knowing she was pregnant and not married, she was kind of in a desperate situation, and she decided that maybe she should kill herself. And so she thought, "I'll jump off of the Sixth Street Bridge," and she walked over there. She said, "You know, I'm afraid of heights, and I looked down and I said, oh my god," and she said, "I turned around and walked home."

RM: Do you know if she ever told anyone about that?

PS: I don't know, but that's what she always told me, she said, "I was gonna do it, but I couldn't."

RM: Did she talk about trying to get a hold of your father since they were in separate areas?

PS: She never said how they would stay in contact, but she must have been able to tell him where she went, or either he found out which camp she went to, because he comes later. And I guess it was okay by then for my mom, because she finally got to see him again. And I guess she thought that he was going to stay with her. In fact, he did for a while until... because she got pregnant with me eventually.

RM: Yeah, so let's talk about, so your mom is living in Block 20, and then your dad eventually gets to Manzanar and they get married. Do you know anything about that story, about what it was like getting married in camp, and also I guess what it was like for your mom to be pregnant and unmarried before that in camp? What was that like for her?

PS: Being in camp and pregnant and not having a husband at the time when she first arrived, she said was not pleasant, 'cause the women kind of ostracized her. And the bathroom facilities were not very private, so you couldn't hide what you looked like.

RM: Wow, I never even thought about that, those showers with absolutely no privacy, that must have been very difficult.

PS: I mean, you couldn't hide your pregnancy there.

RM: Do you know if she went to the camp hospital facilities?

PS: Yes, she did.

RM: Did she go for checkups when she was pregnant?

PS: She never says that, she just said that she went to the hospital to have Janice, and that Hide was still there when Janice was born, and that Hide was embarrassed when my mother was giving birth to Janice because my mother was swearing, using bad language. She kept on saying to my mom, "It's embarrassing." And my mother said she didn't care, it hurt.

RM: So when your parents got married, do you know if they got married in one of the churches in Manzanar?

PS: I don't think so. I'm kind of thinking that they went to the courthouse or something to get married.

RM: Do you have their marriage certificate from Inyo County?

PS: [Shakes head] She never showed me that.

RM: I'll try to get that for you if you're interested.

PS: Yeah.

RM: Do you know if anyone else attended, or if it was just the two of them went up to the courthouse?

PS: She never said. You know, why we don't know anything is because it was kind of a secret for a long time after the war, 'cause my mother never told us that we had another father, I mean, our biological father. My stepfather was my father to me until I was in my, probably mid-teens. So she never mentioned it.

RM: So you're still filling in those blanks.

PS: Right. And I would try and ask her things, and it had become so vague to her.

RM: Did she talk about the, after she and her father got married and then those months leading up to October when Janice was born...

PS: He wasn't there.

RM: He wasn't there?

PS: No, because he went beet topping, I think, is what she said. That his mother told him he needed to go beet topping, and he always listened to what his mother told him, which made my mother angry because he wasn't there.

RM: So she was alone giving birth to your sister in Manzanar.

PS: Yes.

RM: Wow. I would have been swearing, too. [Laughs]

PS: Of course, she had her sister.

RM: Yeah. So her relationship with your dad's parents...

PS: Was not good.

RM: There was some friction there?

PS: Uh-huh.

RM: Did they ever... what did they think of her?

PS: I don't think they... probably didn't like her. I mean, because my mother was very verbal, I mean, calling somebody a "stupid old man" isn't very nice, and I'm sure she didn't say anything nice to his wife. She was just angry with them for telling their son to do things.

RM: That's amazing to me that even though he knew the timing, he was gone...

PS: He was gone.

RM: ...when your sister was born. So besides the swearing and your sister -- excuse me -- your aunt being there when Janice was born, did your mom say anything about just the healthcare in general at Manzanar or that hospital and what it was like to be...

PS: She said she had to stay there, I think, back then you had to stay in the hospital a long time after you had a baby, I think. It wasn't like now, you're in and out almost in one day. I know when she had me she put Janice in the orphanage, and she left her there, she said, for a couple of weeks, maybe three weeks.

RM: This would have been a difficult situation for anyone, but she was having to go through this while she was incarcerated at Manzanar. Did she talk about how that aspect of it, how that impacted everything that was going on?

PS: Well, you know, I asked her even about food, I said, "What did you do about feeding?" And she said, "Oh, they always had it in the mess hall, you just went by and picked up your bottles." So she never had to make food for us. She never said it was a burden being alone. I don't think she had any help. I don't know whether his sister helped my mother, but she was a lot younger, I think, I don't think she would have helped her. It would have had to have been aunt. But I think, I don't know what time they left.

RM: So did she talk about other elements of raising an infant in Manzanar? I had heard of the Well Baby Clinic at the mess halls where they would make formula for the moms to take, and it sounds like that must have been what your mom was going to. Did she talk about other aspects of that? I just feel like there was a lot of logistics that would have been difficult to figure out. Like where did she get diapers and all of that.

PS: You know, she never said anything. Only with me did she ever mention diapers, and that was when Uncle Ben came back on his leave from the army to help her and do my diapers. [Laughs]

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 9>

RM: So maybe, let's talk about what the other members of the family were doing during this time. You already mentioned that your sister was there when Janice was born. And then Ben joined the army, when did that happen?

PS: I'm not sure when he joined the army, but he was, he had to be... let's see. Because I have a picture of him. And Jean was really young, it had to be, like, maybe after a year they were there that he was drafted. I know he was... no, he wasn't married, he got drafted.

RM: He was drafted into the army?

PS: Yeah. So he must have signed "yes-yes."

RM: Maybe. There's some confusion, but I think you could be drafted even if you signed "no-no."

PS: Oh, really?

RM: Yeah. But drafting started in January of 1944, so he must have been drafted right after that, because otherwise it would have been volunteering if it were after the "loyalty questionnaire" in '43.

PS: Okay. So I don't know when he... all I know is he was in the army.

RM: Yeah. And he was married?

PS: He wasn't married.

RM: Not married yet. And what about your mom's sisters?

PS: Well, Hide was married, had a son, and also Sueko or Shizu was married, had a daughter. They both went to Chicago, and I don't know whether they went together or separately, but I know my one aunt Shizu said that once they got there, her husband got drafted. And so she was looking for work.

RM: And she had children.

PS: She had one daughter, she was three years old. She was a latchkey kid because she was told, my aunt would tell her, "Don't open this door for anyone." And I think Hide was just a housewife, though she did become a hairdresser, so maybe they went to school.

RM: Do you know what year they left for Chicago?

PS: You mean from the camps?

RM: Yeah.

PS: See, I don't know when they left. I know that my mother was alone, I know they were all gone.

RM: Yeah, okay. And her mom was still there, but that wouldn't have necessarily been helpful to her raising you and your sister at that point.

PS: I don't think she helped. I know my grandma was still there, and she probably lived with Uncle Ben up until he got drafted.

RM: Yeah. Do you know what happened after he got drafted and what she did?

PS: I'm sure my mother was living with him by then, with them. So she probably... she doesn't say too much other than my grandmother would... she said that my uncle decided to give up a portion of their barrack to this other family because they had a larger family than them. And my grandmother used to scream and bang on the wall. I guess they must have either had a wall built, and used to call them thieves because they stole her portion of her barrack, because she knew the size it used to be. [Laughs]

RM: Do you know if your mom or your uncle or your grandma ever did any, just, things inside of those barracks to make them more livable?

PS: No, I can't remember any, if my mom ever said anything. I don't think my mother had any money per se, and I don't know whether she could have worked having a child already and being kind of alone.

RM: Right. So you mentioned that your dad at least went on beet furlough once, and that was when, fall of 1942.

PS: Well, because I think that was to make some extra cash, right? And then I'm sure his parents were saying if he made some extra cash, then they could buy a few things. It seemed logical to me. When I used to say that to my mother, it did not settle well with her, and it was like I was siding with him.

RM: So he comes back from beet furlough sometime in the fall of '42. Do you know anything about how, what it was like for the three of them to be living together and now this new baby?

PS: You know, she never talked about their life together there. Because how long were they gone, usually, for beet topping, for months?

RM: Couple months.

PS: So he would have been back by the first of the year, probably. So I have no idea what they did. My mom never says. She never said to me anything about what they did. All I know then is that she's pregnant again, obviously they got along, and she becomes pregnant with me.

RM: Did she ever talk about any things in camp like the Manzanar Free Press for example?

PS: She said that Sueko was the editor or she used to write articles, that's about it.

RM: Okay. And then another big thing to ask about is that in December of 1942 there was an event that is often called the "Manzanar Riot."

PS: Oh, she remembered that.

RM: She does remember that? What did she tell you about the Manzanar Riot?

PS: She said someone got shot, but she never said why he got shot, she just knows there was a riot, and it wasn't good.

RM: Did she remember any tensions in the camp that led up to that or preceded it?

PS: No. My mother never got into, like, political stuff.

RM: It sounds like she had her hands full also.

PS: She never talked about that, she did mention that the guns were on those towers, you knew not to go very close to the barbed wire. She said you didn't do that.

RM: Did she ever interact with the military police?

PS: No.

RM: So I guess my next questions are going to be sort of big ones, because they're going to be about the "loyalty questionnaire," and we only have three minutes left on this tape. So I want to ask maybe if there's anything about Manzanar, either its location or just physical things that your mom would tell you about. You mentioned the guard towers and the fence, did she ever talk about leaving the camp for any reason?

PS: No. No, she never said that she left, she just... just the wind and the dust.

RM: Did she remember the landscape at Manzanar, that really shocking wall of mountains that's right there?

PS: No. My mother really wasn't the kind of usual kind of person. [Laughs] Every time I'd want to take her somewhere to look at something or go to the museum, she said, "I don't like doing that, Pat." [Laughs]

<End Segment 9> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 10>

RM: So this is Rose Masters interviewing Pat Sakamoto on May 19, 2015, this is tape number two. And before we jump into some bigger questions about the "loyalty questionnaire," I wanted to let Kristen Luetkemeier, who is the videographer here today, ask a couple of questions.

KL: I'm not sure we recorded your biological father's name and his parents' names. Or we did, but I missed.

RM: I think you're right.

PS: Okay. My father's name was Hiroshi Henry Morikawa, and my mother called him Hank.

KL: And his parents' names?

PS: I don't know.

KL: I was curious about how his family got to Manzanar from San Fernando, because that was kind of unusual, wasn't it?

PS: I don't know. I don't know how they got... because my mother never ever mentioned anything about his family. I think she literally did not like them.

KL: Well, and then you mentioned that she had that argument with her father-in-law when she went to live with Hank's family, and then went back to her own family.

PS: And then I think she came back again.

KL: To his family?

PS: Well, she would have had to because then after he came back from beet topping, they were together.

KL: Yeah, my question, how did it affection their relationship?

PS: They came back together. But I think when she was left alone with his family, I think it didn't go well.

KL: Oh, I see, so the argument was after he had left.

PS: Yeah. I'm sure she did not like them because they probably... I'm sure my mother was a little more verbal than most Japanese women, because she was raised in a Caucasian family, and my mother always said how she felt, she didn't hide her feelings.

KL: Another person who, I think, was prewar friends with the Kunitomis although I'm not sure about that was Hikoji Takeuchi who was shot by MPs pretty early on in Manzanar and survived, but I wondered if your mom ever talked about that at all, that shooting.

PS: No. Was it near the barbed wire?

RM: It was out near Blocks 35 and 36.

PS: Oh, that was far away, isn't it, on the other end?

RM: It's on the north end of the camp.

PS: Because I'd ask my mom about something, and she would just say, "Oh no, I never went to that side."

RM: Wow.

PS: She never left that little area where her barrack was. Block 20, that was her territory, she rarely... I mean, she walked to the hospital to have Janice. And then I think that's as far as she ever went, but she didn't go to visit anyone. Oh, she did mention going to eat at different mess halls, 'cause she said, "We'd hear the food was better somewhere else," and she would go where the food was.

RM: I've only heard that for teenage boys doing that, but it's interesting that other people were doing that also, going from mess hall to mess hall.

PS: She said the word would be out that somebody else was a better cook.

KL: Maybe this is obvious, but why did she stick so close to Block 20?

PS: I don't know. My mother has not been one to travel far, you know, walk, or exercise. I think... and plus, there were no strollers, you would have to carry your child. I think that's why she didn't go very far, and when she was pregnant, I think even walking to the hospital, was that kind of far?

RM: Yeah, it'd be a ways from Block 20.

PS: I think that was it, because she actually walking there, and then she was going to change her mind and go back. But I think her water broke and then they said, whoever saw her said she had to go, her time was due now.

RM: I never thought about women walking to the hospital to give birth, but of course, you couldn't just call a cab.

PS: You couldn't call anybody. Yeah, you couldn't even call even if you were in your barrack, there were no phones, no cell phones, oh my god.

KL: And then the last question -- and maybe this is getting out of order, I hope not -- but I just wondered if you'd say more about anything you know about putting your sister in the orphanage while she was delivering you in the hospital and recovering and stuff, what she said about that.

PS: She just said that when she would go and visit Janice in the orphanage, because she wasn't allowed to go live in her barrack yet, she said they would have her dressed in coveralls or pants, my mother always had her in dresses. And she was so unhappy, and she said she would look so sad on the other side of the fence.

RM: And I think we will talk a little bit more about that once we get past the "loyalty questionnaire" and segregation and Tule Lake. Because then you were born in April of '44, is that right?

PS: Right.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 11>

RM: So let me ask, let's move forward into that questionnaire that the government gave out to everyone in the camps, that asked people to answer some questions about whether they would forswear allegiance to the Japanese emperor and serve in the U.S. Army if called to do so. How did your family respond to that questionnaire?

PS: My mother said "yes-yes," and my father said "no-no." So my mother said "yes-yes," "that I was an American, I'm not leaving." And like I've said before, she said she'd join the WAVEs, the WACAs or anything, she wasn't leaving this country. And I guess she must have known when my father signed "no-no" that he'd be leaving.

RM: There was a lack of certainty in February of what those answers meant to people's lives. But later on in the summer it would have become apparent that it meant segregation. Do you know why your dad answered "no-no"?

PS: Because his parents told him to.

RM: Do you know why they answered "no-no"?

PS: Well, because they weren't citizens of this country. And they probably never could apply to become citizens because of the Asian Exclusion Act. And they felt that they had a better chance if they went back to Japan. So that's why he said "no-no," because he was the firstborn son, and I think it was irresponsible for his family.

RM: Did your mom ever talk about conversations she had with her husband about that?

PS: Well, I asked my mother, and I explained to her, I said, "Well, maybe he had to do it because he was the firstborn, Mom." "No, he was a mama's boy. He did whatever she told him to do." And that's all she'd ever say about him. So she was angry. I think maybe she was disappointed with a little bit of anger in there.

RM: Did the rest of her family answer "yes-yes"?

PS: I would assume they did, because no one, her brothers and sisters, none of them left. Like I said, they went to Chicago, and Uncle Ben was drafted.

RM: Did she ever talk about what the, I guess, mood maybe in Manzanar was like during that questionnaire process?

PS: You know, she never... I don't know whether she just felt isolated there, but she never talks about people she met or talked to. It always seems like she was alone just with her, with Janice, and then eventually me. Never talks about my grandmother, and the only other person she talks about is her brother Ben.

RM: Does she remember what the process was like of answering the questionnaire?

PS: She didn't say that, she just said she signed it and that was it.

RM: That was it?

PS: Yeah. So how did it develop... so obviously your parents both had conflicting answers, and though they may not have known right away what that meant, it definitely meant that something would happen.

RM: Right. How did, I guess, their marriage change after that point, or did it change, because that was February of '43, and then your dad wasn't segregated to Tule Lake until February of '44, so that's an entire year of them still being, I guess, a couple.

PS: Well, they were a couple because then she has me in April. So sometime during the summer or fall, she has to... they've obviously gotten together. So maybe she didn't think he was leaving, I don't know.

RM: Yeah, maybe she thought he was going to actually stay somehow?

PS: Or maybe she thought she could convince him to stay, or maybe he wouldn't really do that knowing that he had a child.

RM: Did she ever consider... I know she wouldn't say "no-no," but did she ever consider asking to go to Tule Lake with him? Though if his ultimate aim was to go back to Japan, that ultimately wouldn't have done her any good. But there were some "yes-yes" family members who went with their family, their "no-no" family to Tule Lake. Do you know if she ever considered that option?

PS: She never said anything, she just... I think she was not leaving, period. She wouldn't have jeopardized leaving the country.

RM: So is there anything that happened before your dad went to Tule Lake that I should ask about that your mom ever told you about?

PS: I Don't think so. Because I didn't even know when he left for Tule Lake, I just knew that he was gone before I was born, and that his parents asked to buy Janice.

RM: To buy?

PS: To buy her.

RM: Oh, my gosh, wow.

PS: And I think it was their only grandchild, and she said, "No, they don't sell children in this country."

RM: How did that conversation even happen?

PS: Well, I think because it was their firstborn son's child, they assumed that she'd give up that child, and they're thinking that she couldn't take care of that child alone. How could a single woman take care of a child?

RM: Do you know when they asked her that? Was it right after the "loyalty questionnaire" was signed?

PS: It had to be before they were gonna actually leave, I would think, before they would have said that to her.

RM: Did they know she was pregnant with you at that time?

PS: I don't know. I know when he left, he had to have known that she was pregnant with me.

RM: Yeah, 'cause if he left in the end of February '44 and you were born in April, it would have been probably obvious.

PS: Right. So maybe they did know she was pregnant and they figured she was gonna have another child, and what was giving up one? My mother would have never done that knowing the way her life had gone when she was young. I don't think she would have ever given up a child, because she knows of her past situation.

RM: What did she say about the day that they left, if anything?

PS: She never, ever mentioned the day they left. She never, ever said anything.

RM: Did she talk about, there were about two thousand people who went from Manzanar to Tule Lake. Did she talk about anyone leaving?

PS: No, never. She was very... I mean, like I said, she barely said anything to me until I would ask her questions. And that would be only after I'd heard something from someone else, and I would want to know if that happened to her. And then sometimes she would open up a little bit, but most of the time it was always that same thing, "It's not a good time, Pat. I don't remember. It isn't anything to remember."

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 12>

RM: Did she tell you about when you were born? It sounds like you know about Janice going to the orphanage during that time. If you could just tell us about that.

PS: Well, Janice went to the orphanage and had to stay there, I would say two to three weeks, is that how long they used to have women after they gave birth? Seemed like a long time, whatever my mother said, 'cause she even had time to visit Janice at the orphanage, but she couldn't take her back. And she was distraught because she was in those pants, and she liked her dresses. I know I always wore a dress, she always had us in dresses. I don't know where she got the money, though. Did they give money to...

RM: They gave clothing allowances. It's a little confusing the way that it worked, she wouldn't have gotten as much, I don't think, as if she had a husband who was working, and then she would have gotten slightly more. But she would have gotten some kind of clothing allowance for you and Janice and for herself.

PS: Okay. Because she never said, but I know she always had us, I've seen pictures, we're kind of in a dress."

RM: And you don't think that she worked in Manzanar?

PS: She never said she did anything. I don't know you could if you had two young ones, I mean, there would be, like, we're only eighteen months apart. Somebody would have to be there all the time.

RM: Do you know if she or Mume had any savings?

PS: No, I don't think they had savings. Because Mume never worked, and Uncle Ben was gone, unless he sent her some money. But I asked my mother one time, said, "Was anybody sending you money?" She said, "No." So I said, "Oh."

RM: Yeah, this would have been just bare bones, whatever she could get. So you were born in April of '44.

PS: April 20th.

RM: And then you told me earlier that you don't remember what Manzanar was like, which makes sense. But I was amazed that your mom didn't leave until just days before the camp actually shut down, in November of '45. Can you tell us about, I guess in part, why she made a decision to stay in Manzanar for so long, and not try to relocate out of the camp.

PS: She said 'cause she didn't know what to do, she didn't know where to go, and she didn't have anybody to go to. I don't think she had any money. If you really think about it, she probably never had a job. She said, "I waited 'til the last moment." But she did say they issued her a trailer in Burbank, and that's where she moved to. So they would have had to make arrangements, or maybe she wasn't going to get the trailer until towards the end. She never talks about the ride there, she had to have taken a bus and then the train again, which would have let her off right near that trailer park.

RM: Do you know if... was she taking care of her mother in Manzanar?

PS: You know, by the time I was, I had to be... I wasn't a teenager then, but I do remember going to Stockton to the mental institute or hospital there. My grandma was there, so I don't know whether Uncle Ben had her committed, or whether he could have her committed before the war was over, do you think that's possible?

RM: Yes, it's possible.

PS: Because that's where she was.

RM: That should be, we should be able to find that out on the roster.

PS: Yeah, she was there, we used to visit her. She was eventually transferred to San Bernardino.

RM: So before we exit camp to the Burbank government trailer housing, I wanted to ask you if there's anything else that your mom told you about Manzanar that I have skipped.

PS: Yeah, we got to go to the Halloween thing, she went to all events in camp.

RM: Did she talk about dances and that kind of thing?

PS: No, she never talked about dances. The only things I see are the pictures she has, what is it, the Halloween party, and I think there was another picture of us. I have another one where we're sitting in front of a barrack, it has tarpaper, that's all I know. We had to be in camp.

RM: Do you know if she ever went to any of the church events in Manzanar?

PS: I know. She got converted to Catholicism because of Maryknoll, the missionaries there, and then she got converted there.

RM: They were busy, they converted hundreds of people in Manzanar. [Laughs] Did she talk about what the Catholic church was like or why she chose to convert?

PS: Well, I don't know, but there was... one of the Fathers ended up, my... Janice's godfather, but I can't remember his name. But he watched over her until she was in her early teens, he would send notes to my sister.

RM: Does Steinbach ring a bell?

PS: That was the Father, but there was somebody else, another person. She had letters, you know, from the father there. I can't find them because when our house was broken into, all these papers were all over the house. We thought we found most of it, but it was really kind of hard to gather up everything. She used to have it all in one place. It was actually a wicker basket that must have been something either that she brought either from camp or from home with our things in it.

RM: And she still had that?

PS: Uh-huh.

RM: Wow. So is there anything else about the Catholic church that she told you about in Manzanar?

PS: No, but she was a very devout Catholic, I'll tell you.

RM: Was she?

PS: Yes. She knew all the prayers. And when I was older and we used to go, she used to remember everything. Of course, I remembered nothing. [Laughs]

RM: Did she remember any of the gardens in Manzanar or any of the agriculture that was going on?

PS: No, she never mentioned that.

RM: That was outside the fence, so it might have been beyond where she was going.

PS: Well, even the garden, or the pond that they had, that was kind of far for her to walk to, wasn't it?

RM: Merritt Park, yeah, it would have been sort of on the way to the hospital for her. When she was on her way to the hospital, she probably wasn't in the mood to stop at Merritt Park. Yeah, Kristen, did you have questions about camp?

KL: Did your grandmother ever receive any kind of mental healthcare in Manzanar?

PS: My mom never said anything, no.

KL: I mean, I have heard occasionally from other people about people who, somebody schizophrenic or the kids were scared of because of explosive outbursts or whatever, so I'm always curious about that.

PS: She never said anything. But he either had her committed before he left for the army, or either there must have been a special place for her in the camp, because my mother never mentions her.

KL: Did your mother ever say anything more about those neighbors who were on the other side of the wall, that there apartment was enlarged? Was there ever anything more to that story, if she would bang on the wall or about their reaction?

PS: No. But yeah, she said she just beat on that wall. She would actually yell, "Dorobo."

RM: What is that?

PS: I think it means "thief."

<End Segment 12> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 13>

KL: It kind of sounds like your mother and Ben's relationship evolved maybe partially because of Manzanar, but certainly while they were in Manzanar.

PS: Right.

KL: Could you say anything more about...

PS: I just think because he wasn't married, he was one of the siblings that wasn't married, that he was looking after his mother and his sister that was alone in the beginning. Because I even asked Mom, I said, "Did Uncle Ben greet you when you came?" and she said, "I don't remember." Because, "Did he fill you mattress with straw?" She said, "I don't know."

KL: But it sounds like she definitely maybe relied a little more on him.

PS: Right. Well, it would have been the same when they lived here in Boyle Heights, he was the head of the household, so he was in the same position even in camp. Because he really didn't get married until later.

RM: Did he end up serving in Europe with the 442?

PS: No. I don't remember him... I could ask my cousin, but I don't think he was in actual combat.

RM: And I made an assumption, but was he in the 442nd?

PS: No, I don't think so.

RM: Do you know what part of the army he was in?

PS: No. Can you tell by their uniform? [Laughs]

RM: Not me, but somebody could.

KL: Yeah, I was just curious because you said in Boyle Heights when she was high school age, he was nominally head of household, but nobody was really paying any attention.

PS: Nobody was paying attention to him. My mother said he had these rules, but she said they were ridiculous, nobody would pay attention to those things. She said, "You have to be home at ten," she said. Who's going to listen to coming home at ten?

KL: But their treatment of each other was different by the time they were in Manzanar?

PS: I think she just relied on him to help her out. But I think outside it was different, she was alone a lot. He was at work. In camp they were there, and I don't think she was afraid of ever being harmed or anything. All I know is that we ran free there, or my sister did. I don't think my mother was the type of person that hovered over her child.

RM: I guess it made me think of one question before we move beyond the camp era in your mom's life. I was just thinking about her answer, or how she told you she felt about that "loyalty questionnaire," and how she said, "I'll join the WACs, I'll join the WAVEs, I'll join anything," it's such a strong statement of, "I belong in this country, I want to remain in this country." Did she ever talk to you about how she felt about the fact that she was... so that statement sounds so strongly American and how she felt about the fact that this country put her as an American citizen into that camp. Did she ever talk about that?

PS: I think she kind of believed the propaganda a little bit, that they were actually protecting them against harm from people, the hate that was out there. I think she kind of believed that a little bit. Plus, she was in really no situation to feel any other way. For her, it actually wasn't bad because the government was taking care of her, she didn't have to go on welfare yet.

RM: So in some ways, it helped her situation to be in Manzanar.

PS: Right. And she could be independent when she was not happy with her husband or his family, she could be independent and just walk away. Whereas if she lived outside the camp, you couldn't just up and leave, you'd have to have a job, you'd have to have something.

RM: Yeah, it's such a mind-boggling situation. Because on the other hand, it makes me think if that "loyalty question" was never asked, how would the history of your family have turned out from there.

PS: They may have stayed together. You know, they would have worked out their problems, or they wouldn't have been living with his parents. I mean, for all these people to be living in these close quarters, I think it was difficult.

RM: Sure, that it exacerbated everything.

PS: And plus, I'm sure they didn't speak English. And what English they knew, they couldn't really communicate.

<End Segment 13> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 14>

RM: I guess last question, do you know if your dad spoke Japanese?

PS: Yes.

RM: He did?

PS: Yes.

RM: And do you know if he had spent any of his education in Japan or if he just learned it from his parents?

PS: I think he either... I don't know, but most of the people or the Japanese here, they went to Japanese school. So he may have gone to Japanese school, or maybe it was just the Japanese he learned from his parents. Like my stepfather, he didn't speak English until he went to school here, and he was born here. Because they had a farm, and his mother never learned to speak English. And if that's the case...

RM: So let's actually continue with what you found out, I guess, about your dad's history after he was segregated at Tule Lake in northern California, what happened to him and his family after that?

PS: I know nothing, there was no contact. I think they only contact my mother ever had, I think there were two letters that she had received from him, but I think he was already in Japan by then. And he asked her to send him cigarettes and coffee, and my mother did nothing. Didn't answer the letters, didn't send anything. He just said, "Say hello to the kiddos," I kind of remember in the letter, but that was about it.

RM: Was that the only communication that they had were those two letters?

PS: Uh-huh.

RM: And she didn't respond?

PS: No.

RM: Wow. Did your mom ever talk about, was she angry at him? Because it struck me, when you said she was madly in love with him before the war, and then to have all this happen, did she ever talk about being angry?

PS: I think she was angry, because anytime I would try and defend what he did, she would just yell at me. I think she was angry, not even just disappointed, I think she was plain angry about it. "How dare he leave me with two children, or leave me with a child and pregnant, leave me in this situation?" And to choose his parents over her. So she was definitely angry?

RM: Did your dad or his parents ever come back from Japan?

PS: No, I don't think so. You know, my mom used to say every once in a while, she would talk to someone that he knew before the war, after, way after the war, and they would say that he never came back. So I think my mom still kind of asked about him, but she never said anything to us.

<End Segment 14> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 15>

RM: So, I guess, let's get back to your mom's trajectory of the story, which is when she left Manzanar, you said she went to live in the government trailer housing in Burbank. And I'm saying she, but actually you and your sister as well. What did you know about that place or how she got there?

PS: She doesn't say how she got there, she just said that she was there with my sister and I, and there was another family there, but they weren't Japanese. I can't remember their name, but maybe he was in the military and had a trailer there. But my mom never said anything.

RM: Do you remember other families that lived in the trailer housing?

PS: No, only my stepfather that must have been living there. He had to have been living there because, like I said, he found my sister and I running free in that trailer camp, in the grounds. And he wanted us to take him to our mother, which we did. And then he told her that it wasn't safe to have children just running around with no supervision. And she told him that it was okay, that everybody knew who they belonged to, and she didn't feel that it was unsafe, she was doing the same thing she did when she was in camp. And a lot of the same kinds of people were living there, so she wasn't afraid. And I think he was more afraid than she was, because she also said he used to come over and make sure we were okay. And for a while there he was actually babysitting us when she was going out dancing with her girlfriends.

RM: [Laughs] So is the first time that your stepdad met your mom when he found you and your sister running around?

PS: Uh-huh.

RM: So you guys were like the baishakunin for your mom and your stepdad. [Laughs] That's really funny. I didn't realize that. I didn't realize they met in that trailer housing. So do you know his side of the story, how he ended up there?

PS: Well, you know, he was the one that went to Tule Lake, so I don't know how he ended up there. I don't know his story to the trailer camp, all I know is that he signed "no-no," and then he changed his mind along with his brothers, and I think his sister, because all of his siblings except for one stayed here.

RM: What camp was he in?

PS: Tule Lake.

RM: Oh, he was in Tule Lake and then he stayed...

PS: And then he was in Bismarck.

RM: Oh, was he a renunciant then?

PS: Yes.

RM: Wow.

PS: So I don't know how he got from there to the Burbank camp.

RM: We can try to figure that out, it's another mystery. Did he talk openly with you as you were growing up about the "loyalty questionnaire" and his renunciation and changing his mind?

PS: They never discussed it at all. Neither one of them ever said anything about the camps. I found out some things because I found papers after my mother passed away and I read them, that he applied for his citizenship through that attorney that all those Japanese went through.

RM: Wayne Collins?

PS: Yeah. And it had a letter and then I think some money he gave him. And his statement why he said "no-no," and how he really didn't want to, but he did it because his mother and all of... and he was head of household now. Because his other brother had already... I don't know what happened. Either his brother had already been in Japan or he was, but George wasn't in the picture, George was married. And it was my dad, my stepfather Paul, and then he had a younger brother Gengo, and I think Paul was nineteen.

RM: Just to get it on record, was your stepfather's name Paul Sakamoto?

PS: Sakamoto, yeah.

RM: And could you say the rest of his family just one more time?

PS: It would be Paul Sakamoto, his brother Gengo Sakamoto, there was Jingo Sakamoto, Kengo Sakamoto, there was, I'm going to say Tom instead of Gihachiro Sakamoto, and Umeko, his sister.

RM: And that was all his siblings?

PS: Yeah.

RM: So he came from a large family.

PS: Right. And then George was married already, so he was head of household there. And then it would be his mother, so he was head of household for all of them. Because his father went, he was prominent in, I would say, communities near Santa Maria, they were farmers. And his father had built a Buddhist church there, he was very prominent. So when the war broke out, he was taken away to be interrogated. And then he had been in an accident with the horses, and he had broken some ribs before he was taken away. And I think then he was in the hospital. I guess when they were going to move the whole family, he wanted to go with the whole family, which was a bad choice because he ended up bleeding internally, and he died. So his mother was not happy about that whole situation. So that's when she said that they would have to give up their citizenship. Even if she wasn't a citizen, but all her children had been born here. And she wanted them to go back to Japan and take her kids with her. But then my dad said, my stepfather said that they got letters from Japan saying, "Don't come, it is not good here." So it was really hard for them to get their citizenship back. I don't think he got his back until the '50s.

RM: Do you know what part of Japan Paul's mom was from?

PS: Kumamoto.

RM: And do you know what her family did there?

PS: They must have been farmers is all I can think of, because they were farmers. In fact, his mother and father were first cousins.

RM: Oh, okay. And did they get married in Japan before they came to the U.S.?

PS: Yeah.

RM: And do you know what year, approximately, they came to the U.S.? I know I've been asking you about so many different people. [Laughs]

PS: I really don't know that much about that side of the family. Because the only one I remembered is my grandmother, and her name was Jino, my step-grandmother's name was Jino.

RM: And that's Paul's mom who originally wanted the family to go back to Japan. Did you say, did she eventually become an American citizen?

PS: No, I don't think so. She didn't speak English. I think you have to speak English to become a citizen.

RM: She stayed in the U.S.?

PS: Yeah.

RM: And did you... well, actually, let me go back to your mom and your stepdad meeting each other again, because you told us how they met was through you and your sister running around. But then how did he decide, having met these two little girls and their mom, that he wanted to court your mom?

PS: Well, I think because he was there a lot watching over my sister and I, and then eventually I think my mother, you know, she realized that he was a very responsible person, and he was a good person. And I think she decided that it was okay to date, and then eventually they moved in together and they moved the trailer to his family's backyard in the valley. And I remember living in the trailer back there, and eventually sold the trailer.

<End Segment 15> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 16>

RM: Do you have memories of the Burbank trailer...

PS: I don't remember that at all.

RM: You would have been very little. Did your sister remember it?

PS: No, my sister actually remembers less than I do. But I do remember living with the trailer in the backyard of their house. And I remember going to kindergarten.

RM: So Paul was living in Burbank trailer park or facility or whatever it was called while his family was in San Fernando?

PS: Or either he was visiting a friend in the trailer park, but my mom never said because I think, I would say they were probably sleeping together, you know, at some point, before they got married. Because then my mother couldn't even get a divorce.

RM: Oh, yeah, how did that part of it work?

PS: Well, she, they decided they were going to get married, but she had to file for divorce here in Los Angeles. So she went down there to file for divorce, went to see the judge, the judge wouldn't grant her a divorce saying that he felt that they could reconcile.

RM: While her husband was in Japan?

PS: Yeah. So my mom would just say to me, "That judge was prejudiced against Japanese." And if he decided he didn't want to grant you a divorce, you didn't get a divorce. So then my stepfather and my mom, he drove her to Reno, and she took up residency there, and she became a housemaid. And my mother boarded us up there and we lived there for, what is it, six weeks, six months, something like that, until she had residency there, he came back for her with that wedding ring. And they got married -- or they got divorced on one floor and got married on the other floor.

RM: That was the only way they could figure out how to do it then.

PS: Yeah.

RM: I didn't realize that a judge had the power to say you can't get divorced because you can reconcile.

PS: Well, that's what my mother told me, so I don't know whether that was true, but that's what she said.

RM: I mean, I don't doubt it, but it's alarming that that was a possibility.

<End Segment 16> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 17>

RM: So you said that you remembered going to kindergarten in, when you were living in that trailer of the backyard of Paul's parents, or mom and, I guess, other family. Tell me, I guess, just in our life, what that was like.

PS: My sister and I both went, but the children, we went to school in Burbank, and it was pretty white, redneck. And the kids were mean to us. And my sister always stood up for me because I didn't fight. If somebody hit me, she'd hit 'em back for me. I think we were just called names all the time. Just remember it... and oh, I remember I was in that other little center, I remember feeling so deserted when my mother used to drop us off to catch the bus to get the transfer to get to work. And they would always say, "Oh, just leave her, she'll be just fine." And I, even to this day, I can remember the hot tears dripping over my nose as I lay there, just feeling deserted.

RM: Where was your mom working?

PS: I think her first job was in a shoe factory. I don't know exactly what she did there. And then eventually she got a job in the garment industry. But they did, all the Japanese networked. If they found out that there was a better job someplace else, they would let other people know, and then they would come and apply. So that's how my mom learned how to do anything, and then eventually she was on piecework. I remember her sewing when I was in, I was already in high school, she was still sewing.

RM: Do you know, it still would have been very difficult for her financially, especially before Paul was...

PS: Oh in the trailer camp? I asked her.

RM: Yeah, how did she handle that?

PS: Oh, I asked her about that, and she yelled at me one day, and I said, "How could you afford it, Mom? Was Uncle Ben sending you money?" I said, "Or Auntie Sue, anybody?" And she would always say no. And I'd say, "I don't know how you could do it, I mean, daycare? And what you used to do for work?" And then she finally said, "I had to go on welfare." I said, "Oh, now I understand it." But you know, it took her... it had to be almost sixty years before she ever told anybody she was on welfare. It had to be the worst thing that ever happened to her.

RM: Did she have other support from people in that community? I assume everyone in that trailer area was pretty, didn't have a lot of money.

PS: Desperate.

RM: Yeah. [Laughs] Did she ever talk about that community supporting each other? I mean, obviously it sounds like Paul was supporting.

PS: Yeah, she didn't mention very many people in the camp. Maybe she didn't have time to think about it, you know, she was working and then dropping us off at that daycare, and then coming home. And I don't remember very much there, and then when we went to the regular elementary school, I just remember the kids being so mean and cruel all the time.

RM: Do you remember any specific instances, or was it just constant?

PS: It happened quite a bit. I mean, they usually called us a "dirty Jap," and then they wanted to play war. And, of course, my sister and I were always the enemy, so then, of course, we had to be dead, you know, they'd hit us or knock us down until we played dead. And it went on into they moved into the inner cities schools, and then we didn't seem to have that so much anymore. But in Burbank it was, I think, all white.

RM: It's amazing because you were just in kindergarten, right?

PS: And my dad, I remember, my stepdad bringing a sheet cake on my birthday, I think just to make, be nice-nice and sharing it with the whole classroom. But it didn't mean anything to them, because once that cake was gone, we were still, you know, the enemy.

RM: Did you tell your mom about this?

PS: I don't think my sister and I ever said anything to our parents about people being mean to us. I do know that when I got a little older and I used to say things to my stepfather he said, "Well, then you need to just him 'em back." And he said, "And you need to be proud of who you are." And I kept on thinking, "I don't think so." I just, I couldn't understand how you could say that if people were always being mean to us. There had to be something wrong with us, because they never said about the camps. We didn't know about that.

RM: Did your mom experience any racism when she moved back into, or not back to Burbank, but moved into that area as an adult?

PS: You know, my mom never said anything about any prejudice. I'm sure she felt it because, to find a job, but I think she worked downtown. I think she took the bus directly into downtown; I don't think she found work in Burbank, it was definitely downtown. I think it was definitely downtown in that industrial area because she used to go with her girlfriend.

RM: How long were you in school in Burbank?

PS: I think probably maybe through the first grade. And then they moved, and it's really funny, but I don't remember when we moved to, like, Thirty-ninth or Fifty-ninth street, and my mom said we went to school there. The only school I remember was the one when we moved to Third and Flower, and I was in the third grade by then. So there was a big gap I don't remember.

RM: The second grade year. Did any of your teachers do anything when you and your sister were in this terrible position of being bullied?

PS: I don't remember any of the teachers ever saying anything or helping us out.

RM: Did they treat you any differently than they treated the other kids?

PS: I don't know. All I know is I was kind of an angry child, and I think the teachers always had me separated. Because I had a temper about... my sister conformed better than I did. But I don't know, I never felt any prejudice there. I did as I got older.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 18>

RM: So you had talked about your mom and Paul's plan to make it possible for her to get a divorce, which was to go up to Reno and get residency in Nevada. When did that take place?

PS: I think I had to be at least three or four years old by that time.

RM: So this is before you were going to school in Burbank, okay. So they were already married at that point.

PS: Right. Because when he enrolled us, he enrolled us as Sakamotos. That's how come we never knew we were Morikawas. Because you didn't have to produce a birth certificate to go to school then.

RM: So now long was it between him meeting your mom and the two of then getting, eventually, married?

PS: Well, when I came out of camp I was eighteen months old, so it's got to be like a couple of years, year and half, couple of years, that my mother was on her own.

RM: Then you were talking about moving down to, away from Burbank into downtown L.A. area?

PS: Downtown, like Thirty-ninth or Fifty-ninth city, somewhere around there. Probably closer to, let's say, the coliseum over there. But I don't remember that apartment.

RM: And then you moved on to Third and Flower, and what was your mom doing and what was Paul doing at that time?

PS: She was a seamstress, and he was working, I think he was working for Big 5 then.

RM: Oh, the...

PS: Sporting goods. It was a war surplus store then.

RM: I didn't know that.

PS: Because before, when he first came out of camp, he was going to be a gardener, because a lot of the Japanese were gardeners. [Laughs] Because my Uncle Ben ended up a gardener. But I think he got a job at Big 5.

RM: Did either your mom or Paul ever end up going to college?

PS: No. My dad, when he went to night school to learn how to make furniture.

RM: That's a good skill to have. We have just a couple more minutes, so I guess maybe if you want to talk about the difference between the Burbank school, and when you moved downtown and you were suddenly in a school that I'm guessing had a much more diverse group of people, how was that transition for you?

PS: Well, I don't remember there ever being any prejudice there. I don't remember kids calling me names there anymore. I just, I was like a kid, that's all, having a good time. I remember playing, and my sister and I going to the library together.

RM: Kristen, do you have any questions about this time before we end this tape?

KL: I don't. I thought you were looking because we were thinking both were going to want be, like, tell us about the library.

RM: [Laughs] We both have affection for libraries, so maybe we should ask about that.

PS: Oh, I remember we used to go there every two weeks, because you check out a book every two weeks. My sister would always check out ten books, I didn't quite check out ten books. She would finish her ten books, I was lucky if I could finish two of mine. But it was still fun to go to the library. And I remember our school used to have dances, you would learn a dance in school and then we would do the dance at the library.

RM: Oh, a public performance.

PS: Yeah.

RM: Wow. And which library was this?

PS: It was the main one downtown.

RM: The main downtown library? Wow.

PS: And we knew how to use all those little drawers and go to whatever room, it was great. It was a real adventure, 'cause it was on Fifth and Flower, I think, isn't it?

RM: I don't remember its exact address.

PS: But it's absolutely beautiful, have you been in there now?

RM: Yes.

PS: It's gorgeous. But I remember my sister and I walking there after school, it was fun.

<End Segment 18> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 19>

RM: All right, this is Rose Masters, I'm interviewing Pat Sakamoto in Monterey Park. I guess I should say it's at the house of Raymond and Toshiko Kurihara, and this is tape three of our interview. We were just talking about the library downtown and how Pat and her sister Janice would go to do dances there, but also check out books. I guess there were some things I wanted to ask you about just what your family life was like after Paul and your mom got married. Because it sounds, I think you said that you didn't know that he wasn't your father for quite some time, and it also sounded like he really cared about the two of you kids. So if you could just tell me what your family was like.

PS: I think it was almost like a normal family. Well, eventually, the one I remember is when we moved to Third and Flower, I was in the third grade, I was eight years old. He worked for... I don't know whether he worked for Big 5, but I think he did, and my mother worked in the garment industry. And I went to Fremont Avenue School, and I loved it. And lots of friends, and they used to shoot a lot of movies in our neighborhood because it looked like the gangster area. And I just remember it being a good time, because it's not far from Angel's Flights. And then I remember when we moved to the house on Virgil, it was in... let's see, I was twelve. So it had to be '56, 1956, when we moved to the house. And over the years my mother told me this was a house she dreamed about owning. Being on the bus going to work, and she would see that house and say, "I love that house. I hope that it could be my house one day." And they made an offer on it in 1956, and it was theirs. I don't think they could get a regular loan for some reason. I think they paid twelve thousand dollars, and the people that owned the house before took the loan back. And my father put, they put down five thousand dollars on that house. And I remember that little booklet in the mail that came, they paid so much on the principal and so much on the interest.

RM: What was the house like?

PS: It's a two bedroom, you know, living room, dining room, it's a wood frame house, and it has a breakfast room and kitchen, service porch, it's fairly large. I think it's close to fifteen hundred square feet.

RM: It sounds like your family had to move around a lot, and then was this finally you all could settle into it.

PS: Yeah, they bought the house and my mother never would leave that house. Even if my father worked in Torrance, and he wanted to move to Gardena, and she said no. This was her dream home and she wasn't going to give it up.

RM: For those of us -- I guess I was trying to imagine where Virgil is, and for those of us not familiar with that...

PS: It's near Koreatown now. It was on Virgil between First and Second Street, which is just east of Vermont, if you know where Vermont is, Vermont's a major street.

RM: I think so. Somebody who watches this will know all of those streets. I have talked to people who said that they had trouble buying homes in Los Angeles because they were Japanese American. Did your family ever face that kind of difficulty with renting or buying?

PS: Well, I think the reason why we rented where we did was because people would rent to us in those neighborhoods? I think they did come across that when they bought the house, and that's why the owners or the owner took the loan back, because they couldn't get a loan. My parents never said, but I know that even into the '60s when I graduated from high school, I couldn't rent in Los Feliz, they wouldn't rent to me. And I would go and look at an apartment, I had a Caucasian girlfriend, and they wouldn't rent to me, they'd say it was filled. And then my girlfriend would go and they'd rent to her, and then we'd have the apartment.

RM: And this was in the 1960s?

PS: Uh-huh.

RM: It's sad that that lasted so long. I guess I'm going to maybe fast forward, but first I want to ask Kristen if you have questions about Pat growing up and L.A. and everything? Maybe if you wanted to just summarize sort of your continuing, going through school and what that was like for you, if there was anything that really stood out that you'd like to share. Especially because, I think something that I'd like to know more about is that you just had this terrible experience in school when you first entered it in Burbank, and it sounds like it really improved. Did you ever have other issues in school with prejudice or kids that were...

PS: Not so much. But I do know when we used to go to the swimming pool in Hollywood, I remember kids calling me a "dirty Jap."

RM: And when was that?

PS: I had to be... I used to take the bus, I had to be maybe... oh, back then I could have been eleven or twelve taking the bus to Hollywood, because it was only one bus line I had to take.

RM: So in the mid-'50s then.

PS: Yeah.

RM: Do you remember that kind of prejudice just all over, or was it usually just specific regions of L.A.?

PS: I don't think I felt it too much anywhere else. When I went to high school, there was no prejudice, 'cause I went to an inner city school, and it was a big mix of kids. I felt it in the church, like when I joined... I think a neighbor down the street asked my mom, I think she felt that we needed to have some sort of religious background, but she asked my mother if she couldn't take us to church, and it was the First Baptist Church. And I think I felt prejudice there, and especially when I went o the camp, the kids weren't nice to me there. Same thing when I went to the Presbyterian church on Sixth Street, I felt the same thing when I went to camp, but I wouldn't tell my parents. I still let them pay for camp, even if I was having a miserable time.

RM: Did your mom continue practicing Catholicism?

PS: You know, she couldn't anymore, because by then she was divorced and she couldn't receive anymore. So she couldn't be included in a lot of the ceremony of the Catholic church. So she joined the Hollywood Independent, which was just a, I think, a Presbyterian church.

RM: Was that hard for her?

PS: She never said, she just changed churches. Mine, my stepfather now was Buddhist. Not that he was a practicing Buddhist, but he felt that we needed to go to church no matter what, because they all preached basically the same thing.

RM: Did you ever go to a Buddhist church with your stepfather?

PS: No. Only funerals.

<End Segment 19> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 20>

RM: Did you all ever go to big events in L.A.? Like I know earlier I brought up Nisei Week before the war. Did you ever go after the war?

PS: Oh, yeah, I used to go Nisei Week, I used to dance in Nisei Week.

RM: What was the earliest one that you remember?

PS: I had to be a teenager by then because... I had to be a teenager, because I remember getting dressed.

RM: And what was it like? I've seen photos, and it's amazing.

PS: The carnival was really nice, it was fun. My parents took us, we had a good time, there was lots of games, and then the dance and the parade and everything. Plus, it was a giant parking lot. I think that's what happened is that there was big parking lot left anymore for them to put up the carnival, I don't know. I know we stopped going, I stopped going because it wasn't the same to me.

RM: Were there other events that you went to?

PS: I used to go to Koyasan picnics, because the Kunitomis belonged to Koyasan Buddhist Church, and they used to always have their picnic in Huntington Beach, and we used to always go.

RM: I was gonna -- oh, go ahead.

PS: But I always enjoyed going to that because it was a potluck. Everybody brought food and shared it, and then they had games where you threw the egg and you had the three-legged race. Just the normal, like, if you went to the fair type of thing.

RM: Were these picnics, were they going on when you were in your teens?

PS: Oh, yeah.

RM: And did they continue for a while? I hadn't heard about the Koyasan picnics, but I like the idea.

PS: I'm trying to think when was the last time I went to one of those. I had to be in my late teens by then, because I think even my sisters remember, they may remember going to the Koyasan. But you ask Bruce, he'll remember the Koyasan picnics.

RM: I will. So, I'm glad you brought up the Kunitomis. Did your family, it sounds like, remain close friends with that family?

PS: Pretty much. When Frank and Hide, they stayed in Chicago for a long time, they had two children, they had Cynthia by then. I think they came here when Cynthia was maybe ten years old, eight years old. They came back, and I remember my parents helped them out financially, and they rented the apartment across from our house, it was up the hill there. And then eventually they moved to where his mother lives, 'cause I think they all pitched in and they bought that triplex over there on Parkland, and that's where my aunt and uncle lived. And that's where Frank's mom, Sueko's mom lived, and her sister, Chiyoko, and Kingo, all of them lived there. So we all kind of were in that same group because we used to visit them a lot.

RM: Were your mom and Sueko close after, during this time?

PS: Not so much, because I think Sueko was married, and they didn't live there. I had met her husband and boys. I think at some time they got a divorce, I don't know.

RM: So since we're sort of in your high school years a little bit, I wanted to ask about when you learned that Paul Sakamoto wasn't your dad and that this guy that your mom had been married to was your dad. How did that come about?

PS: I can't exactly remember. I just know, the only thing I can think was I needed that birth certificate for something. But it had to be my later teens or maybe mid-teens.

<End Segment 20> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 21>

RM: Pat, I wanted to ask how you felt when you found out that Paul wasn't your dad.

PS: Well, actually, I was at that age where I was angry about a lot of things because my dad didn't let us do a lot of things, he was pretty strict. So I thought, "He's torturing us because we're not his biological children." [Laughs] "He's trying to torture us." You know, it's the logic of a young teenager. And my sister and I would discuss this, yeah, because we had two of us to discuss this and decide that this is why he was doing this to us, making us stay home and not go out and have a good time, where he's really looking after our welfare. We were only allowed to go out once a week. We had to be home by eleven, and it didn't make any difference if we went with our girlfriends or a boyfriend. So it was pretty strict there. And even before that, we had to be home by, we had to be able to sit at the dinner table at five o'clock, those were the rules.

RM: I wonder if they were influenced by the way that in camp a lot of families lost that dinner at five together with the family kind of thing.

PS: I don't know. It was really important that we were at the dinner table. And then we did all our chores, and we couldn't go out and do anything until we finished doing what we were supposed to do first.

RM: Did your mom try to explain... I mean, you had your theory that he was torturing you, but how did your mom talk to you about the --

PS: She didn't really say anything other than that the dad we thought was our dad really was not our dad, it was our stepfather.

RM: So she didn't try to tell you why.

PS: Uh-uh, because we didn't know about camp. See, we did not know about camp life.

RM: So did you know that camp had happened at all?

PS: No. Because I think I mentioned to her once in junior high school, there was like a little blurb in the history book, and she just kind of pooh-poohed it, said, "Oh, it was nothing." Because I remember asking her, "They're saying something about some sort of camp." She said, "Oh." And so I never asked her again.

RM: And none of your friends' families talked about it?

PS: Nobody ever talked about the camps.

RM: And I take it Paul didn't say anything about it either.

PS: No.

RM: So when, how old were you when you found out that your family had been incarcerated?

PS: I'll bet you I was... I don't know, I had to be pretty old. I would have had to have been fairly old, because the pilgrimages started, and then it came out that Sueko was working for the reparation, my mother was all for this, and we'd have to know what the reparation was about.

RM: Yeah, right.

PS: So by then I'm pretty old, I've got to be in my twenties.

RM: Wow. So it's really interesting to me that... because I always sort of link Ku Sakamoto and Sue Kunitomi in my mind a little bit.

PS: They were totally separate.

RM: Like, your mom didn't talk about it at all, on the other hand.

PS: Sueko was very verbal about it and wanted people to know about it.

RM: Did they ever... did Sue ever try to get your mom to talk?

PS: Yes, and Sueko used to always say to me, "You know, I always try and get your mom involved in some conversation or tell her experience, that she needs to talk about it, and she can let it go." She said, "But she won't say anything." She was silent. Even when I first started taking my mom, she never, all I knew is that we had to go to the pilgrimage. And I think I started going, it's got to be over ten years. How long has Sueko been gone? Because I was taking her before she passed away. Because Sueko's the one that asked me to start taking my mother. Because she said, "Your mother, I can't leave her alone and I have too much to do with the pilgrimage." My mother used to always ride up with her.

<End Segment 21> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 22>

RM: So let's, I guess, let's roll back in time a little bit to the pilgrimages starting in 1969. When did you first learn about the Manzanar pilgrimages?

PS: You know, I got married when I was twenty-two... I'll bet you I must have known by then, because I asked my husband then -- I was married then -- "Let's stop at Manzanar," but we couldn't find it. [Laughs] I mean, there was very little there, because I was twenty-two, so that's got to be almost fifty years ago. There was very little there, there was a little bit of the gymnasium, right? But I couldn't find the... 'cause I didn't know it was in another mile, and I think it had barbed wire across it, so you weren't supposed to go, I think it said "no trespassing." So I said, well, I don't know where it is. Other than we could see that building, the entrance, and I think that was it. I said, "I guess there's nothing to see."

RM: When did you start asking your mom about camp and about her experiences? Was it at the same time?

PS: No, it was a lot later. Probably not until I was in my forties did I ever ask her anything. Because she didn't want to tell me anyway, even in my forties she never answered me. And I don't know how long she was going to the pilgrimages with Sueko, but I know she was going quite a while with her. But I never see her in those pictures, the early pictures. And my mom, obviously, couldn't tell me when she started going.

RM: Why do you think your mom was unwilling to talk about camp but willing to go to the pilgrimages?

PS: I don't know. I'd ask her, "Mom, why do we have to go?" "We have to go." Because I know why I didn't go for a long time, I used to run a marathon in Big Sur, and it was on that same weekend.

RM: That's the best marathon, yes.

PS: So I could never go to the pilgrimage because I was at that all the time. And then I had to stop doing that.

RM: So you stopped doing the Big Sur Marathon and then you came to the pilgrimages. Your mom had been going for a long time, you then joined her at the request of Sue, what year was that?

PS: That I don't remember.

RM: Okay, and that was in the early 2000s, though, you were thinking?

PS: Yeah, I think so. I have one t-shirt that I made, that I made my sister come with. I can look at it because I put the date on it.

RM: So I feel like I've skipped over a lot of your life. Would you like to fill that in? You said you got married when you were twenty-two.

PS: Well, we don't need... I mean, I was a flower child, did that whole thing, went to a lot of concerts, I marched during the Vietnam War. I mean, I was like your normal kid, I was a beatnik for a while.

RM: Did you, during the Civil Rights Movement, and then Vietnam War, did you know during those times about the injustices during World War II against Japanese Americans?

PS: I think I did by then. I think mainly because of the 442nd, you heard about the 442nd, and they had to have their own battalion.

RM: Did you... I guess I'm curious --

PS: I thought most of 'em were all Hawaiian, though, but I guess if you were Japanese you could join that.

<End Segment 22> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 23>

RM: I guess I always just wonder, I always link big changes like redress...

PS: All I do remember is on redress, my mother insisted that my older sister and I collect our money. It was really important to her that we did that.

RM: And did she also...

PS: Oh, yeah, she definitely did.

RM: How did she react when the apology, when Reagan gave that apology and those letters?

PS: I don't think my mother voiced an opinion about that. All I know is that we had to make sure that we got our money, because I think she felt that we were due that. And I said, "Okay," and I did that.

RM: Did she ever say why you were due that? Because doing this oral history, I would say yes, but did she ever voice that?

PS: She said, "Because you were born in the camps." That was all she said to me. "If you were born in the camp, then you were entitled to this money." She wanted us all to get it.

RM: And what about Paul, did he ever say anything to you?

PS: He got his, too.

RM: And did he express anything with the apology?

PS: My stepfather never said anything. All I remember him ever saying, if we said anything bad about our government, he'd get really upset, saying, "You can't say those things." I think he was traumatized about being incarcerated, because he'd even get upset if we said something bad about the President, "You know, they put you way." "What is he talking about?"

RM: How did he feel when you were marching against the Vietnam War?

PS: Oh, I never told him.

RM: You never told him, okay. [Laughs]

PS: He didn't know what I was doing. No, but he would always say we had to be good Americans. But the other thing is he never voted.

RM: Really?

PS: And he would always promise my mom, "Maybe next time."

RM: Do you know why?

PS: Because he couldn't for a long time because...

RM: Oh, because he didn't have citizenship? Yeah.

PS: And then once he got his citizenship, he just never voted. I don't know, he just never would do it. But he wanted all of us to.

RM: It sounds like he was a really interesting man.

PS: He definitely was, he was very loyal. He said that he would have joined the army, but they would have rejected him anyway, he had a broken bone that had never been set, and they said they could fix it but they'd break it again, and he said, "That's okay."

RM: When did Paul pass away?

PS: Oh, let's see. He was born in... my mother was born in '24, so he was born in '22. He was sixty-seven when he died. So that's '89, 1989.

RM: I guess I had another question about Hank, I guess is what he was called, Morikawa. You had expressed, I believe, off camera, that you went to Japan and decided not to try to find him at some point. Did you and your sister ever talk about once you knew that he was your dad, about trying to track him down and about the fact that he never came to find you two, it sounds like?

PS: My older sister never, ever had any interest in finding him. I probably was the only one, and my sister had no interest in even going to Manzanar. She lives far away from us, she lives in Washington State, so we don't see her very often. We aren't very close anymore, we were closer when we were, obviously, young. When she got married and left the house, she always, her husband -- her choice of mates, let's say, always moved her far away from the family.

RM: And she never expressed a desire to try to find your dad?

PS: No.

RM: And what about you?

PS: Well, I thought about it. Even thirty years ago when I went, I was going to go to Japan, which I did. We didn't have enough days, I would have had to have given up my whole trip to go and search. And I thought, "If I haven't met him yet and he hasn't made an attempt to find me, he's not really my father to me." My father is my stepfather, because for most of my life, I never even called him my stepfather. He was always my father. And I thought his family was, they were all my relatives. Because his mother actually was my grandmother to me, because she used to take care of me sometimes. So I would have never known any other family. The only thing I guess I can be thankful for is that he must have had good health on his side because I'm fairly healthy, I'm tall, because he was tall. My mother thinks he was either 5'10" or 5'11". And I probably wouldn't even recognize him if I saw him. I just thought it would be neat to find out if I had other cousins.

RM: Yeah, and you might.

PS: And I guess for health reasons, like if you needed, let's say, some donor thing, it would be nice to know, or what diseases run in your family. But I'm going to just pray that I'm okay. I'll think positive about it.

<End Segment 23> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 24>

KL: You kind of touched around this, but when and how did you find out that your, being born in Manzanar, having lived for a while in Manzanar was kind of unusual?

PS: I don't think I thought it was unusual.

KL: Really?

PS: Yeah. I guess I never thought of it as being... well, once I found out where I was born, because by then I was kind of old. I probably thought I was born in Los Angeles all that time. So I never thought anything about it. But once I had to put Manzanar, I know people, whenever I put Manzanar before, they didn't know where it was, and even if you mentioned Lone Pine, do you think anybody recognized Lone Pine?

KL: I talked to someone else once who was about your age, she was born in another one of the camps, and she kind of figured things out around the same time as you did, and it was when Farewell to Manzanar was, came out, was published. And she said that caused a big stir in the Buddhist church she was part of, and a lot of people sort of in groups segregated by age were talking about that book and what they thought of it.

PS: When did it come out?

KL: I think '73. It was not long after the first pilgrimages, what became Manzanar pilgrimages.

PS: Gee, maybe I even found out about it then, just because of the book, or the movie. Was it the movie that came out first, or the book?

RM: The book.

PS: I may not have read it, my mother might not have...

KL: I just wondered if there was a moment, if it was when the pilgrimages began, or if there was one moment or circumstance that caused you to have that awareness and how you reacted to, that this was different than people who were African American or white people or whatever.

PS: No, I don't think I thought anything about it other than I was born in Manzanar. I knew that not very many people were born there.

KL: Did you and/or your mom go to the commission hearings in Los Angeles during the redress movement?

PS: I didn't. I don't know whether my mother did, but knowing my mother, she probably didn't go because she was never political about anything. She never voiced an opinion about anything. Sueko would have gone. [Laughs]

KL: Well, I wondered also if, so your mom was going to the pilgrimages way before you started going, is that right?

PS: Right.

KL: Did any of her siblings to with her?

PS: No. Auntie Sue, or Shizu, stayed in Chicago and never went. But you did have a statement about her one time in the exhibit.

RM: Oh, really?

PS: Yeah, that she must have given to Sueko or something, or someone. And then Uncle Ben never came. Oh, and I did bring my cousin, his daughter came with me. And I don't think anybody else. I still haven't gotten one of my sisters to come, she keeps saying it has nothing to do with her.

KL: Did your mother ever say anything about those earlier pilgrimages, what they were like, what she bought?

PS: No, because she was never verbal about any of the, she would have never joined in in any discussion. She would not have even heard that. She may have been in the hotel room, for all I know. Because I'm sure Sueko probably spoke to someone at the Park Service, right?

KL: She actually spoke to all kinds of people, Park Service and other people who had been in Manzanar.

PS: I think it would have gone right over my mom's head.

KL: So she didn't necessarily go out to the cemetery or to Manzanar, she just kind of was riding with Sue?

PS: She would go wherever Sueko went, that's all. And I'm sure that if... I don't know what she did in the beginning, but towards the end, because of her health issues, she couldn't walk very far. What it was is she was doing her other medication, but she kept saying she knew what she was taking. But it was, all of them were in one container, and she'd pick 'em out.

KL: When you would go with her to the pilgrimages, did you guys go out to the cemetery and join speakers and stuff?

PS: Oh, yeah, we went to everything. I even got her to go into some of the discussions. But she would have to tell me something that I could discuss, because she wasn't going to say anything.

KL: So she told you, sort of, as a filter, things that she was thinking?

PS: Yeah. I would ask, "Did this happen, Mom? What do you remember about it?" I hear somebody else, she'd tell me, and then I could tell them what she told me. But she wasn't going to talk about it.

KL: You said that Sue thought that it was, Sue wanted your mom to talk because she thought it was important for her to, she thought it was important for her. I wonder if you could say any more about how, why she thought it was important, what Sue thought would happen if your mom talked about it?

PS: I think she thought my mother still was angry about my father, and I think she thought that she could then let it go. I think that was the main thing, was that... by my mother never said anything.

KL: I wondered if you would just tell us sort of your, more about Sue, about your impressions of her as a person, like what drove her, what she was like to be around, just give us your description of her?

PS: Oh, I just think she was very strong. I think she wanted to voice her opinion, and she was determined to have people know what happened. Because she knew there were a lot of people like my mother, and everybody would forget that this ever happened. And it could happen again, and I think she wanted people to know. And she did it in a nonviolent way. I think she did good.

<End Segment 24> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 25>

KL: I'll let you do that, but the only other thing that I had is that is that it struck me that you said twice that your mom said, "There's nothing to remember," and that word remember is a strong, it resonates a lot with me. So I guess I wonder... it's not exactly what I was thinking about that.

PS: You know, even when I've asked my mother, I said, "How did you feel when Janice was born?" And I said, "Were you excited?" I said, "It was your firstborn child." And she would say nothing. And maybe it was because he wasn't there, but she would never say, "Oh, I was so excited that Janice was born, and she was such a pretty little girl," or anything, she would never say any of that. I said, "Mom, don't you remember? Do you remember how it felt?" But nothing.

KL: Yeah, I guess my question to that, and there were sort of two parts of it. One is that it's -- and we're contradictory creatures, I think people are, so maybe that's just the answer. But she would say there's nothing to remember, and yet she went to the Manzanar pilgrimages.

PS: I know. And I never could understand why it was so important to her if she wasn't going to voice her opinion and how she felt about it. And I thought maybe that's why she got me involved. Maybe she did want me to be her voice.

RM: The fact that she actually had you speak for her, in some ways, in those discussions, or she would tell you something and you could talk about it, I mean, it does sound to me like literally there you were her voice. Right now you're being her voice, she's not, obviously, sitting here telling you to do it. But I think that's pretty amazing that she did find a way to tell the story, it's just not maybe the typical way of telling the story.

PS: But I know that I had to do it for her, because she wouldn't do it. And that's why I had to... this other friend of mine said, "You must have been horrible, you were a pest." I said, "Well, yeah, I had to. My mother wouldn't tell me anything, I had to keep asking her the same question over and over again." And maybe say it in another way so that maybe she would tell me. But she was always closemouthed about it. I think she told some things to my younger sister sometimes, but not very often. I think more the thing is that she was really in love with our father, and that she married Paul because he was a good man, and she was older now and she could see that he was more responsible. And being in love doesn't mean that they're going to do the right thing.

RM: She and Paul had children then, and how many...

PS: They had two daughters. But I don't think she was madly in love with him when she married him. She knew that he would be a good provider and he'd treat us good. And she made a decision. Because she needed someone to help her, so it was one of her sacrifices. But you know, eventually she loved him dearly, and you learn to love someone. That's why sometimes these prearranged marriages do work, because they find out they're similar backgrounds and stuff.

KL: Yeah, my last question is just sort of the second half of that, "there's nothing to remember." What do you think of that?

PS: There was a lot to remember. There's a lot that I wish I knew that's she went through, but I know that... because my mother was really a touchy-feely kind of person, and kind of emotional. And so it must have been hard, very hard, for her to repress all those feelings for all those years and not say anything. And I'm glad that I'm here to do it now.

RM: Yeah, it seems so different. When you were describing her, like, arguing with Hank's parents, and when you said she always said what she thought, and that sometimes got her in trouble, and then for her to have held this back for so long.

PS: Well, I think she had to do that because she couldn't divulge that we weren't, he wasn't our father. And she always allowed him to punish us when we were bad, and she would never say anything, even if he hit us. He didn't hit us where he would have to go to prison or anything, but corporal punishment was in then. A spanking here and there didn't kill you. But by the time she had my younger sisters, she told him that she wasn't going to let him do that anymore.

RM: Do you think it was an active decision on her part not to tell you two as you were growing up about where your biological dad was?

PS: Oh, yeah.

RM: You think it was purposeful, it wasn't just an accident.

PS: It wasn't an accident, she wasn't going to tell. Janice didn't remember, and Janice was older than me.

<End Segment 25> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.

<Begin Segment 26>

RM: Well, I guess Kristen brought up a question which is we see you at pilgrimage every year, how did you become involved in the Manzanar Committee, not just going to the pilgrimages?

PS: I had to take my mother to the meetings. Whether my mother participated in these meetings, I had to go and take her, and I figured if I was going to spend time there, then I might as well put my input in it and tell them what I thought. And so I automatically became a Manzanar Committee member.

RM: Do you remember when that was, that you became part of the committee?

PS: As soon as I started taking my mom to the pilgrimages. Because I would have to go to some of the meetings so that I would know what was happening, what I needed to help out with that my mother, because my mother would tell me I had to make food for the potluck. So I had to be prepared for all of this. And my time would be there, that's when it started.

RM: What have you thought about your work you've been doing with the Manzanar Committee and the work that the committee does as a whole?

PS: Well, I think it's pretty good. And this last one I really did enjoy. I think the speeches were good, I think... and I think I liked the one before, too. They've gotten a little bit better every time now. I think sometimes they're way too long. I keep on telling them we need to shorten it a little. They need to get those speeches down shorter. Some of those people go up there and talk forever. We were lucky this year because it was cold, but on those hot days, you can't expect those people to sit out there in the sun. It's miserable in the sun. Because my mother used to hate it, she hated the sun.

RM: She probably got enough of it when she was confined there.

PS: I used to always have a little shade over her, or cold water. But being older out there, it's hard on you. And now it's better because they have that big tent now for the older people to sit in. I think that's made a big difference.

RM: What do you think about all of the new generations of people, different groups like Muslim Americans have started coming to the pilgrimage, what do you think about how it's been drawing in new generations?

PS: Well, I liked the part that the Muslims are being included. I have friends that are, that say things like, "They're all terrorists," and I always have to defend them to my friends and tell them, "They're not all terrorists. Some of them are, but not all of them. They're like you and me, they were born here, raised here," and I think it teaches people that you can be, have a different religion and look different and still be the same as everyone else because we all basically have the same needs. You know, you're looking for a little love, a little companionship, we all eat, we all have families, and we care about them. So it bothers me when people say that Muslims are terrorists. Or any group. I mean, they say it about the Pakistanis, I think, too, but I know they're not all that way, because I know from experience. And so I like to be able to say that to people.

RM: Why do you think that... it's always so impressive to me how many people who are now very elderly make that trip to the pilgrimage every single year, year after year, and they sit out in the hot sun. Why do you think it's so important to them to return every year?

PS: Because they think they want other people to know. And I think they're hoping... or I think they feel a connection, like when they hear those speeches or they hear people, how it felt. That they're saying inside, they're like my mother, saying, "Yes, that's how it was, I'm glad you're saying it. It's something I can't do, but you're doing it for me," is what I think.

RM: So I'm going to ask, I guess, a final question, but I think Kristen has one more before I do that. Go ahead, Kristen.

KL: So if someone is watching this who's totally new to this topic, what is the Manzanar Committee, who's on it, what is its objectives? What is it?

PS: It's mainly to let people know about our civil rights, and how it can be easily taken away if you aren't diligent about fighting, even if it is your government, to fight for your rights. I think that's what the Manzanar Committee is about, is fighting for your rights, your given rights here in this country.

RM: And hopefully that segues well into this next question, which is that, as you know, we both work at Manzanar National Historic Site, we're doing this interview so that people for hopefully many generations can learn your mom's story, your own story. And you spent a lot of time up at Manzanar as a National Historic Site. What kind of things do you hope people will learn from that site, and what would you like to see the Park Service do to make sure that happens?

PS: I don't know. I really like the exhibits. I like that you have there about "No Japs Here," or whatever, some of those sights, because I think people need to see those things to know that that really happens. It's like the blacks in the South and it says "white" or "Negro" or "black," and about where you can drink water, or even watch a movie, it's all the same. I think you're doing a good job. I think people that come away from that can see that, and it can happen. It's no different as the Civil Rights Movement in the South, as our civil rights movement was taken away from us. And I think that's what it shows in the Park Service, in the museum.

RM: Is there anything that you'd like to add to finish this interview, anything that I missed or that you'd just like to say for the record?

PS: No. I think I pretty much covered it all. I only hope that people can see that they need to be, watch what's happening in this country, it can happen again. It's happening to Muslims.

RM: Okay, Pat, I think we are right near the end of that last tape, and thank you so, so, so much for sharing this with us.

PS: You're welcome.

RM: On behalf of both Kristen and on behalf of me, but also everyone, because now this becomes part of the national domain, and people can learn these stories through this interview, so it's invaluable, thank you.

PS: You're welcome.

<End Segment 26> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.